A Reminder That Doorknobs, School Desktops, Shopping Cart Handlebars, and Buttons Are Vectors for the Spread of Swine Flu

This today in the New York Times:

In Hong Kong, where health checks are being conducted on passengers arriving at the city’s airport, janitors put up fresh sheets of plastic film over elevator buttons so that any sick people pressing the buttons would not share their germs with too many people who pressed the same buttons later.

How frequently, I wonder, are the sheets of plastic being switched up? I suppose that if you changed them on the hour you could substantially reduce elevator usage as a vector for disease spread.

One of my daughters attends a small school where quite literally every parent and student in the school passes through a doorknobbed gate that remains shut throughout the day (and that you must use a type pad to gain entrance at). In other words, both the type pad and the gate’s doorknob could function to spread swine flu to the whole school (should even a single case appear there).

I wonder if schools, supermarkets, and workplaces should assign someone to go about through the day wiping down doorknobs, grocery carts etc. with a disinfectant (at least until a vaccine for Swine Flu is developed six months from now). We’re in a bad economy and people need jobs. So why not this one?

And something else I’d like to know: What percentage of flu cases tend to be transmitted directly by cough or sneeze (that is, by air), and what percentage are transmitted by touch (a person touches a doorknob and ten minutes later touches his or her nose)? I realize that these vectors interact and are not easily untangled (a person might touch a doorknob, get the virus that way, and then sneeze it three days later onto another person). But I guess I’m simply asking to what extent handwashing and the sanitizing of surfaces reduces the percentage of people getting flu. And if the answer is, say, 60%, then why aren’t we ernestly and collectively engaged in distributing sanitizing hand wipes to our population and keeping clean our public surfaces (as those in Hong Kong appear to be doing)?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s